When the pandemic hit, Andrew Johnson was working in a charming spot off the beaten bath in Brentwood Bay near Beauregard Cafe. He met Doug Mutch, owner of the Beauregard Cafe and the seed for an online only, take-out only pizza business on the Saanich Peninsula was planted. From their first conversation, it was a matter of two months before Bicycle Pizza had their soft opening month.
“The pandemic allowed us to dream big, pivot and develop to a business model that adapts to the current environment,” says Johnson. “Customers are looking for safe ways to enjoy their favourite foods and our business model provides the ideal way for them to enjoy extraordinary pizza safely at home. As we are all more comfortable pre-arranging everything virtually from doctor’s appointments, to click and collect groceries, the idea of online ordering has become our new normal.”
Beauregard Cafe makes the perfect jumping off point for Bicycle Pizza as it allows the pizza business to operate in the evening while also introducing some great items to patrons of the cafe during the day. Dually beneficial for both parties as it keeps overhead low for both parties, while utilizing time otherwise idle in the commercial kitchen. Starting in early summer 2021, Bicycle Pizza will also share a space with Union Pacific Coffee once a month in downtown Victoria further growing their audience into the downcore core
The opportunity to launch a new business with very little risk, zero overhead with an excellent product is rare. Without realizing it, Johnson had been perfecting pizza and bread baking at home for years. Due to his extensive background in the food and beverage and specifically the pizza industry, pizza was a natural fit.
“Andrew’s been in the pizza business for 12 years. He spent the last 10 years at Pizzeria Prima Strada and also spent time in California at the VPN institute. VPN, Vera Pizza Neapolitana. Essentially it’s a pizzaiolo certification you need to have a VPN restaurant with pizza standards from Naples. He knows how to work with pizza,” says co-owner Vanessa Johnson.
Andrew wanted to try something different. “He had a great product and wanted to get to customers as soon as possible. Essentially we could have perfected the business model until the cows came home but he wanted to get something in the market and adjust based on the feedback, supply and demand. I can say now that it was a smart idea however at the time I was wanting more time to proofread, edit, perfect, finesse…but that’s how we differ,” says Vanessa Johnson.
The dough is old-school with “no funny ingredients”: soft flour (with a bit of whole wheat), water, yeast and salt, and a little elbow grease too, as it’s mixed and rolled by hand. The long fermentation makes the dough easy to digest and gives it a great flavour. Frozen craft pizzas are also available at Beauregard Cafe, Niche Grocerant in Broadmead and Riot Brewing in Chemainus with more retailers and breweries coming soon. Future developments include expanded days of operation, pizza subscription (launching July 2021), and gluten-free options.
”Nourishing people for a living has always been something I want to do. It’s in my blood. My fondest memories as a kid always involved food,” says Andrew Johnson. “As an avid cyclist, I like the euphemism of the bicycle – it’s agile, sustainable and fun for everyone. That’s what I want this business to be.”